Raleigh, N.C. — Social conservatives say they will spend $215,000 on broadcast television and digital media buys in the Raleigh market to bolster North Carolina's House Bill 2.
"Our television ad is necessary to tell the truth about HB2 by educating North Carolinians about the danger and risk associated with laws and policies like Charlotte’s ridiculous ordinance, which would have forced private businesses, churches, schools and public buildings to open their women’s bathrooms and locker rooms to any man claiming to be a woman, even if that person has male anatomy," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the Institute for Faith and Family.
Fitzgerald has been the front-woman for a number of social conservative groups and causes, including the North Carolina Values Coalition, and helped lead the campaign on behalf of the state's now defunct constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Her comment is typical of backers of the law, who have sought to blame Charlotte for passing an ordinance that would have required businesses to allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their choice. House Bill 2 negated that local ordinance, but it went further, creating a statewide nondiscrimination law that excludes LGBT individuals.
Many businesses and entertainers reacted negatively by either refusing to perform in North Carolina, withdrawing conferences or, in at least once case, refusing to locate a new facility here. Most recently, sports leagues such as the Atlantic Coast Conference have withdrawn tournament games from the state.
The institute's ad focuses only on the law's bathroom provisions.
In the 30-second spot, a young woman described in a news release as a high school student from Greenville defends House Bill 2.
"Just changing in front of girls my own age is intimidating," she says to the camera. "Now, they want boys to shower and change beside me? It's not just about privacy, it's safety too. Charlotte's ordinance gives men access to what should be a very private place. HB2 is a fix. It protects my privacy and safety."
It is rare but not unheard of for a group to defend a particular act of the General Assembly that has already passed rather than a candidate or cause. However, recent polls, including a WRAL News survey released Tuesday, showed that more than half of voters in the state disapprove of the law, and more than 60 percent believe it is hurting the state's national reputation and fiscal well-being.
Political scientists say the bill could be hurting Gov. Pat McCrory's re-election chances, as well as the prospects of Republicans in suburban legislative seats. Three-quarters of respondents to the WRAL News poll said House Bill 2 would either strongly or somewhat influence their vote.
"HB2 has hurt our state for months now. It's an economic disaster and discriminates against LGBT North Carolinians," said state Rep. Chris Sgro, D-Guilford, who also is executive director of LGBT advocacy group Equality NC. "This desperate and false attempt to fear-monger by Governor McCrory's allies shows just how out of touch he is with North Carolina, and it's not going to work. We call on McCrory to denounce the false ad and commit to a real conversation about how HB2 is hurting our state."